Vatican City — I often heard leading diplomats refer to The Vatican as the “world’s most important listening post.”
With so many career and experienced diplomats representing the world wide government of the Catholic Church, and a significant number of highly qualified ambassadors assigned to the Vatican, it’s indeed accurate to conclude that most discussions and information sharing about world events and politics that occur in the Vatican are about as professional as any place in the world.
Also, the fact that that the Holy See (church government) has mainly the issue of world peace as its objective, provides the Vatican with the kind of credibility enjoyed by an honest broker.
I personally witnessed the role of this unique place while serving as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See during the Clinton administration. I had the opportunity to travel throughout the world and meet personally with leading diplomats.
Well, all this came back to me once again while attending the recent Consistory of over 20 new Cardinals at the Vatican, including Cardinals Dolan and O’Brien from the United States.
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We spoke with countless informed diplomats about leading world issues. Not surprisingly, the crisis in the Middle East and Iran’s growing nuclear threat was a matter of great concern to everyone. Conversations about these included leading informed sources from countries like Syria and Israel.
But the one issue which just about everyone mentioned, which surprised me, was the global energy issue. Specifically, the staggering rise in gas prices.
I said that in the United States, the media has not given much coverage of late to the issue, which surprised just about everyone.
Even Vatican officials who are deeply committed to the environment sense the potentially dangerous hardship to families with limited resources and those on fixed incomes that would result from higher global gas prices.
These officials see this as an issue in the area of “economic justice,” which, of course, is central to Catholic teaching.
Yes, the world is changing dramatically and change is being driven largely by an unstable world economy.
I think U.S. political candidates would be wise to pay attention to what both political and moral leaders are saying at the Vatican, opinions which only reinforced my long held view that that American elections are won and lost in supermarkets, and at the gas pumps.